practical information on the town of Zakopane and the region (since 2003)
Zakopane is a lovely town situated at the foothills of the majestic Tatra mountains. It has a population of 30,000 inhabitants. The unusual location of the town, hidden between a gentle range of Gubałówka and the rocky Tatra summits was a decisive factor in its career as a tourism centre. As early as at the end of the 18th century Zakopane, a small and remote village located at the southern end of Poland, started to attract the first summer holidaymakers. The visitors arrived mainly from Cracow in horse carts, often carrying various domestic equipment, which they couldn't find in the modest highland peasant cottage.
In 1889 Zakopane obtained the status of a health resort attracting patients suffering from tuberculosis. When, in 1898 the construction works on a railway track were finished, the first train from Cracow reached the town. This resulted in a rapid increase in the number of tourists from 1600 in 1898 to over 10,000 in 1900 (over 3 million at present).
The thirties of the 20th century were a period of a sudden skiing boom. Before the outbreak of the Second World War two huge investments in Zakopane had been finished, which secured Zakopane's status as the winter capital of Poland. In 1936 a cableway to Kasprowy Wierch (1,998 m above the sea level) was constructed in just six months.
Soon afterwards, in 1938 a chair rail which took the tourists from the centre of Zakopane to Gubałówka, where they could admire beautiful views over the Tatra mountains stretching away from the hill, was opened.
During the Second World War uninvited guests started to appear in the town. They were the Nazis and their families who used the confiscated hotels and boarding houses to spend their holidays in. Many of the Tatra tourist guides and Zakopane skiers put their life at risk during the war, helping the refugees to cross the Polish border through the mountains.
After the war, till the end of the 80s, Zakopane was mainly visited by Polish tourists who spent there their summer and winter holidays.
After the collapse of the communism the number of Polish tourists visiting Zakopane decreased slightly, but more and more international visitors began to come to Zakopane.
Krupówki street - the main pedestrian zone of Zakopane, full of shops and restaurants. This is where the post office, banks as well as exchange offices are situated. In the season the place gets extremely crowded, and we find it hard to believe that as late as at the very beginnings of the 19th century this street was nothing more than just a narrow bitten path joining central parts of the village with the iron works in Kuźnice (this is where the cable car is today). Krupówki street gets particularly crowded in bad and rainy weather, when people search for alternatives to outdoor activities.
While in Zakopane, it is a must to take the cable car to Mount Kasprowy (1987 m asl), both in summer and winter this is one of the most popular local attractions for both the adults and especially the kids. In winter time, there are two chair lifts operating in Mt. Kasprowy and two skiing pists for advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Gubałówka and the local market:
The other very popular lift in the area is funicular to Gubałówka hill, which starts in the very centre of the town. Gubałówka (1100 m asl) offers spectacular views over the town and the surrounding Tatra mountains. On the way back to the centre of the town we come across the local market nestled in between the very foot of the hill and Krupówki street. We shall find local souvenirs (woodware, leatherware, woolware, etc.) there together with leather jackets and fur coats, clothes, shoes, fruit, vegetables, and a whole alley of local OSCYPEK sheep cheese sellers - all in different shapes and sizes.